AN EXPERIENCED police officer may lose his job after he was convicted of assaulting a friend after a boozy night out.

Detective Constable Peter Lawrence armed himself with a knife to confront pal Simon Slade who he claimed had made offensive remarks racist and religious remarks.

Lawrence said the whole thing had been a joke to scare and embarrass Mr Slade and the judge in the case said he would be sentencing him on the basis that the assault was a ‘prank which went desperately, desperately wrong.’

Lawrence, 42, was cleared by a jury of assaulting Mr Slade causing actual bodily harm, but found guilty of the less serious offence of common assault.

The jury had been told that the alternative offence was open to them if they decided Lawrence was not guilty of abh.

Married father-of-two Lawrence, a detective constable who has been doing undercover work, has served with Dorset Police for 17 years.

He joined at the age of 26 having worked in agriculture before that, the court was told.

Defence counsel Peter Onslow said the conviction will mean Lawrence will lose his job.

The prosecution had alleged that Lawrence had pinned Mr Slade against the wall at a flat in Dorchester and put a kitchen knife to his throat, threatening to cut it. Lawrence said he had taken hold of Mr Slade by the front of his shirt and held the knife out over his shoulder.

Mr Slade suffered a slight injury to the side of his face which the prosecution had alleged was caused by the knife. The jury was asked to decide whether that amounted to actual bodily harm. Mr Slade also suffered a hand injury when he pushed the knife away.

The pair had been part of a group who had gone out drinking. Also with them was Stuart Hole and Sarah-Jane Massey.

Mr Slade got ‘very drunk’ and when they returned to Mr Hole’s flat in Dorchester, he was making racist and anti-Semitic comments, it was alleged.

Mr Slade agreed he had been drunk but did not accept he had been making offensive comments.

In evidence, Lawrence said his aim was to embarrass Mr Slade by telling him that he had Jewish heritage and had lost relatives in the Holocaust.

He would have waited for an apology then told him he was joking, he said.

Lawrence said he did not recall what was said between them outside the flat door but he did get hold of Mr Slade by the front of his shirt and held the knife out over his shoulder.

“I did not put it to his flesh, absolutely not,” he said. The next thing, he was head-butting me. There was a blow to my nose. I recall letting go and falling backwards. I realised I had broken my nose.”

Lawrence was released on bail for a month while a pre-sentence report is prepared.

The judge, Jamie Tabor QC, said: “I need to know a lot more about him – this is potentially likely to have very serious consequences on his career. I have no doubt that he has served the community extremely well.

“I will need as much evidence as I can get from his employers about what happens next.”

The jury had earlier heard several character references for Lawrence. He was described as a dedicated and professional policeman and a key member of the Kangaroos football club.